Has the phrase “personalized mobile learning” been buzzing around your school or work environment? If you don’t feel that you’re well-informed, please read on… And, if you are already on board with this concept, take a second and at least skip to the last section.
Mobile Learning Defined
Mobile learning is most simply defined as combining mobile device use with educational and productivity use.
Perhaps a little more sophisticated definition is found here by Gary Woodill: “True mobile learning is personalized learning that unites the learner’s context with cloud computing, using a mobile device.”
Example of How Mobile Learning Becomes “Personalized”
The “personalized” part of mobile learning enters into the picture in a difficult to define way. Let’s use an example instead…a student working on a project who has a question about a term he’s come across may feel too embarrassed to ask the teacher what the term means. With his personal mobile device, instead of needing to ask the question and admit his ignorance, he can simply look up the term right then and there and then proceed with the assignment.
So in this example, the student was able to use personalized mobile learning to learn a new term that he (perhaps) alone didn’t know. He was able to do so without interrupting the entire class or admitting in front of his peers that he didn’t already have this knowledge. A very simplistic example, but I’m sure you understand the potential for personalization of learning that is provided by mobile devices.
What Students Are Saying about Personalized Mobile Learning Today
Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Survey provides a wealth of information on the pulse of personalized digital learning. Although, I recommend reading the entire document, I want to pull out just a very small portion of these survey results for you to consider here and now:
“A solutions proposal – from the students: The student point of view on how schools could make it easier for them to use technology is very cut and dry: let me use my own tools. A majority of middle school students (56 percent) and high school students (59 percent) would like to use their own mobile devices for instructional purposes at school. Even 27 percent of students in grades 3-5 would like to use their own smartphone or tablet at school. Additionally, 41 percent of students in grades 6-12 would like to bring to school a personal laptop and 4 out of 10 students believe that access to their social networking site at school would yield educational benefits. Some students who may be weary of the ongoing digital battles at school have taken a different approach: if you won’t let me use my own tools, then provide me with tools and access that replicate my out of school usage. In addition to “give me greater access to the websites I need to support my schoolwork (70 percent), the students’ wish list includes:
- Unlimited wifi Internet access throughout the school (47 percent)
- Tools to help organize my schoolwork (38 percent)
- Access to the school network from home, school or wherever I may be with my mobile device (37 percent)
- Communications tools to support my interactions with other students and my teachers (36 percent)
- Collaboration tools to work with my classmates on schoolwork projects (32 percent)
As further confirmation of the reality around this pervasive shift to mobility in our technology use, over one-third of students also want their school to provide them with the ability to recharge their mobile devices during the school day…even if their school bans those same mobile devices.”
Valid Reasons for Your Reluctance (And Great Recommendations!)
Still reluctant to allow personal mobile devices in your classroom? Well, you are not alone in your reluctance, nor is it unfounded. There are some real concerns that go along with allowing mobile devices in the classroom, including cheating, sexting, and other disruptions. In District Administration’s article From Cell Phone Skeptic to Evangelist, former teacher, Liz Kolb, author of From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning, provides what I think might be the most real outlook and best recommendations for embracing personalized mobile learning despite these possible drawbacks.
Here are some other great resources on personalized mobile learning: http://mobile2012.org/mobile-learning/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suren-ramasubbu/mobile-learning_b_1610496.html
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